by Pat Raia
Proposed legislation that would protect businesses from some COVID-19-related lawsuits has been passed by the Florida Senate’s Committee on Judiciary.
Filed on Jan. 6 by Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes, who also serves as chairman of the Florida Senate’s Judiciary Committee, SB 72, the Civil Liability For Damages Relating To COVID-19 would protect business, charities, educational institutions, “governmental entities” and religious institutions from opportunistic COVID-19-related claims.
The measure would require a court to dismiss without prejudice any lawsuit bringing a COVID-19 claim if the complaint is not pled with particularity – that is if the complainant has not included specifics and details of the alleged incident not just general statements – or if the person filing the lawsuit fails to provide an affidavit of a physician attesting that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries or damages. If the court determines that the defendant made a good faith effort to substantially comply with government-issued health standards or guidance, the defendant is immune from liability.
Under the bill, claims must be brought within one year after a cause of action takes place.
If passed the bill applies retroactively and would take effect upon becoming a law.
COVID-19-related protections for health care providers will be the focus of separate legislation, Brandes said.
SB 72 will be considered by the Legislature when it reconvenes in March.